Saturday, March 31, 2007

Joy of Tech

The Joy of Tech looks at Adobe CS3.

Award to TTL

TTL has in recent times posted both excellent insights and links to many interesting things. So he is awarded the Kool Kommentator award, which is $100 worth of books on
OK, TTL has sent me his book list, and they have been shipped now. From actually. Due to his excellent English I did not realize TTL is not American but Finnish.

1) Miracle of Mindfulness
by Thich Nhat Hanh

2) The God of Jane: A Psychic Manifesto (Paperback)
by Jane Roberts

3) On Writing Well, 30th Anniversary Edition: The Classic Guide to Writing Nonfiction
by William K. Zinsser

4) One Small Step Can Change Your Life: The Kaizen Way
by Robert Maurer

5) The Death of Franz Liszt: Based on the Unpublished Diary of His Pupil Lina Schmalhausen
by Alan Walker

6) Programming Pearls
by Jon Bentley

"Madness, I tell you!"

One of my favorite Phoebe moments.
(This was not on YouTube, so I ripped it myself.)

"Elephants Dream"

"Elephants Dream", highly interesting computer animated short-movie.
"Elephants Dream is the world’s first open movie, made entirely with open source graphics software"
... Apparently they pour money and work into these kind of projects for free and for the good of the Open Source movement. How about that?

And you can download it for free too!
If you have a big screen and a good Net connection, you should "invest" in the high rez version, the pictures are amazing. Seriously, this stuff makes the many-doors scenes in Monsters Inc look like yesterday's news. I had not expected this from a non-profit project.


Kustomization is kool.
(I almost bought a high end Trek bike last year, but then I found out that my back is no longer up to road biking, goddammit.)

I was considering a recumbent bike. But some say the rock, some say they stink. Anybody tried them?

South Pork

Each episode of South Park is produced in a week. Pretty impressive.

I feel about South Park like I do about Family Guy: often very funny, and I like their general irreverence. But often I think it's just too cynical.

Friday, March 30, 2007

Bronze art copyright theft

Did you think software was the only thing being copied freely and illegally in Asia? Not so, intellectual theft is apparently becoming one of their biggest industries.

The hugely talented Victor Issa (who is working on a small sculpture for DOMAI) is one of those hit hard by bronze art copyright theft.

I would really not have thought that a labor-intense craft like bronze sculptures would lend itself to fraudulent copying, but that's the thing: if anything is cheap in the east, it's labor.

Making Canon lenses

If you liked the Making Lenses video, you'll like this one from Canon. For somebody like me who likes high technology and optics, it's keeeewl.

You get an appreciation for why a good lens costs good money.
And for how much modern life is built upon human cooperation. A thing like a modern camera is based at least tens of thousands of inventions which have happened over hundreds of years, and on a planetary society building up industries which then come together.

Thursday, March 29, 2007


Big (really big) screen multi-touch computer interface. There is also this one.


Interesting post on panhandling.

Observation and closeness

It is an interesting thing how the things that are closest to us are the things which we observe least well. This applies in a billion ways, here's just one fun example.

My mother was originally Swedish, and was "imported" to Denmark by my dad when they were young and before they got any of us kids. One day in high school I had a friend home who said: "Where's your mom from?" I said "what do you mean?" She said: "well, her accent...?" I said: "come on, she doesn't have an accent."

Many years later it had been a while since I spoke to mom, and she called me one day, and suddenly I could hear her accent! It was not even all that subtle.

Last week I mentioned this to my older sister, and she said: "Mom had an accent?!?" She couldn't believe it.

Apple sizes

It just strikes me something odd is going on with Apple Inc and sizes. In the one place where compactness matters, namely laptop computers, they seem to have given up making a really small and light one. They cancelled the wonderful 12-inch laptop.

But where is does not matter, on top of your TV, they have made a box which is smaller than any laptop I've had.

The smallest iPod is so small you have to clip it on your shirt for if you keep it in your pocket it's too small and light to stay in there.

And the apple remote control, which only has to sit on your table, not get carried anywhere, is so small that it can hide behind a coffee cup.

All very odd. :)

Wednesday, March 28, 2007


The ability of modern computers like my Mac Pro to multitask is amazing. I can write on my blog, surf, and answer my email, all the while my computer is:
1: Uploading a big update to my commercial site.
2: Syncing gigabytes of files to my Apple TV.
3: Downloading a whole film from iTunes.
4: Processing a bunch of pictures in Photoshop in the background.
5: Playing music. (Which includes decoding the music files.)

All at the same time and without any problems or perceived slowdown! Awesome.

Making sculptures?

Update April second: I have bought some nice polymer clay and tools, and I'm playing around with some ideas. No products yet, but I like the ideas! :)
I would like to take a shot at making small sculptures. Just very simple human or animal figures, less than a foot tall.
The thing is, it has to be easy and fast. I have no patience whatsoever, I am not going to sit for hours working on a non-creative aspect of a project.
My ideal is something which is as easy to sculpt as play-doh or plasticine, and then you say a magic word, and bam, it's hard as rock...
You'd think somebody would have invented something like that by now. But if they haven't, what's the next best thing?
Do you have any tips for me?

Update: A very good option seems to be Super Sculpey Firm Gray.
It was surprisingly hard to find images approaching the kind of thing I am imagining I'd like to make. Apparently my idea of what a sculpture is, is more original than I thought. But Elizabeth Waugh's work comes close.

Sturgeon's law

Here's an example of how fame is not your friend:

"Ninety percent of everything is crap."
-- Theodore Sturgeon

This is the way it's commonly quoted. And if you look at that as it is, it's very negative, isn't it? It basically says the world is crap. Which does not really teach us anything.

But the story is that Sturgeon, a science fiction writer, was commenting on some people who were judging SF as being crap. So he said words to the effect of: "Sure, 90% of SF is crap, but then 90% of anything is crap."
(He probably even said "anything" rather than "everything". Different meaning.)

You see? He was not judging "everything" as being 90% crap, he was talking about not judging, in this case not judging SF by all the books which are not good, because no matter what field or medium you look at, the good stuff is in the top 10%.

So fame is not your friend. Often when something is reduced to what can survive in popular consciousness, a sound byte, all subtlety and much of the wisdom is thrown out with the bath water.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

"You know you are Lebanese when..."

Pascal (in Lebanon) sent me the text in blue below.
I can't vouch for the veracity, since this kind of culture is so enormously foreign to me.
One thing strikes me though: if this is an even half-way accurate picture of meditaranian/middle eastern culture, then I think people from there, especially men, must have a very hard time when they come and live in a place like my home country Denmark. Because all those status things, like the clothes, the car brands, and the macho image, simply don't mean anything to most Scandinavians. I don't think they even notice it. It must feel like being castrated or becoming invisible to somebody from a culture where it is everything.
- Eolake

You know you are Lebanese when:
1) You constantly mix Arabic, French, and English when speaking ("Okay merci kteer, yallah bye!") or ( Hi Kifak Ca Va )
2) You call a Night Club (Night), Cafetteria (Cafet) and Dunkin'Donuts (Dunkin')
3) You won't drive anything that's not a Mercedes, BMW, or Hummer
4) You could always use another pair of sunglasses
5) You get plastic surgery at least once in your lifetime
6) You use your forehead and eyebrows to point something out
7) You think you are better than everyone just because you are Lebanese
8) You are so "class" while everyone else are "nawar" (Bedouins)
9) Syrians are the butt of all jokes
10) Your family "owns" at least one Sri Lankan servant
11) You can't do anything in life unless you have a "wasta" (connections)
12) You have about 40 cousins
13) You have at least one relative named Mohamed, Ahmad, George, Elie, Tony, or Marc
14) All your aunts want to hook you up with a guy/girl they know
15) Family gatherings are filled with gossiping and cat-fights, where the women hang out in the kitchen and the men sit and discuss politics
16) You are constantly talking about the latest Hayfa Wehbe news
17) You have relatives smuggling diamonds in West Africa
18) You bought your driver's license
19) You don't have a job but you drive an SUV and upgrade your cell phone every month
20) You only buy something if it is expensive enough, because the higher the price the better the quality, right?
21) You dress like you're going clubbing all day everyday, probably because you do.
22) If you are a Lebanese girl you give the look of death to another girl who looks better than you
23) Your aunt is always asking when she can belly dance at your wedding
24) When you arrive at an airport you find like 20 relatives waiting to greet you
25) You always curse Lebanese people when you are in Lebanon, but when you live abroad you only make Lebanese friends
26) The men always fight over who pays the dinner bill (Everybody wants to pay!)
27) You teach Westerners all the Lebanese swear words
28) You have to keep explaining to Westerns that Beirut is not just a drinking game
29) Your refer to other Lebanese guys as "Cuz" or "Bro"
30) Your extended family is over your house all the time, discussing the latest family drama
31) There is no such thing as quiet time
32) You know there is another meaning for "kiss" and "tease" ("p*$$y" and "a$$", in arabic!)
33) At least one conversation a day is about being Lebanese
34) Going to church is a fashion show
35) You have at least one gold chain with a cedar tree or a cross on it
36) You think wearing a leather jacket during the summer is cool
37) You are always right!

W.C. Fields

W.C Fields as Honest John. Priceless.

Another good one: a collection of Phoebe's songs from Friends. And the Smelly Cat video.

I just finished rewatching Friends seasons eight though ten, the last one. My favorite show ever, but man, did they run this Rachel/Ross "romance" into the ground! I put "romance" in quotes because to me "psychosis" seems to be the more apt word. Near the end I was just praying for a plane crash or something to finally put that infernal seesaw out of its misery! :)

Chantal Stone photography

Chantal Stone photography.
I like her photos. They are... understated. Pleasant. Warm. Well composed.

Monday, March 26, 2007

How camera lenses are made

Considering YouTube is less than 1.5 years old, it already contains an amazing amount of interesting stuff. See for instance this short docu-thingy: How camera lenses are made.
I can see a future where a lot of the less essential information we need and want is available on the web, not just as text but also in video form. Text will not be replaced, but I have to admit that watching something in video form is more entertaining and holds my interest better.
I concede though that if you need to learn something for deep and serious application in your life, probably text is better.

Monica and Rachel dancing

Talking about the aesthetics of dancing, here is another favorite: a flashback in Friends, Monica and Rachel dancing. I love how it is beautiful and funny at the same time.

Mechanisms in conversation

I have found that for conversation to flow the smoothest, it pays off to pay attention beyond what you actually say, to what can be perceived from what you say.

For instance, we humans often feel we're under attack, even when we're not. So it helps to make sure what you say can't be interpreted wrongly.

Wrong: "I thought we were meeting in front of the restaurant, you did not say you would be inside."
Right: "Sorry, I didn't get that we were meeting inside."

Wrong: "Did you put the cat out for the night?"
Right: "Is the cat out for the night?"

Try to avoid using "you said" or "you did" in situations where there could be issues of blame.